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Learning on the Quick and Cheap: Gains from Trade through Imported Expertise

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  • James R. Markusen
  • Thomas F. Rutherford

Abstract

Gains from productivity and knowledge transmission arising from the presence of foreign firms has received a good deal of empirical attention, but micro-foundations for this mechanism are weak . Here we focus on production by foreign experts who may train domestic unskilled workers who work with them. Gains from training can in turn be decomposed into two types: (a) obtaining knowledge and skills at a lower cost than if they are self-taught at home, (b) producing domestic skilled workers earlier in time than if they the domestic economy had to rediscover the relevant knowledge through “reinventing the wheel”. We develop a three-period model in which the economy initially has no skilled workers. Workers can withdraw from the labor force for two periods of self study and then produce as skilled workers in the third period. Alternatively, foreign experts can be hired in period 1 and domestic unskilled labor working with the experts become skilled in the second period. We analyze how production, training, and welfare depend on two important parameters: the cost of foreign experts and the learning (or “absorptive”) capacity of the domestic economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 1251.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1251

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Keywords: learning; transmission mechanism; multinationals; imported experetise;

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References

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  1. Beata K. Smarzynska, 2003. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Increase the Productivity of Domestic Firms? In Search of Spillovers through Backward Linkages," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 548, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  2. James R. Markusen & Thomas F. Rutherford & David Tarr, 2000. "Foreign Direct Investments in Services and the Domestic Market for Expertise," NBER Working Papers 7700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables, 1997. "Foreign Direct Investment as a Catalyst for Industrial Development," NBER Working Papers 6241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrea Fosfuri & Massimo Motta & Thomas Ronde, 1998. "Foreign direct investments and spillovers through workers' mobility," Economics Working Papers 258, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  5. Blomström, Magnus & Sjöholm, Fredrik, 1998. "Technology Transfer and Spillovers: Does Local Participation with Multinationals Matter?," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 268, Stockholm School of Economics.
  6. Wolfgang Keller, 2000. "Geographic Localization of International Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 7509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Keller, Wolfgang, 2000. "Do Trade Patterns and Technology Flows Affect Productivity Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 17-47, January.
  8. Wilfred J. Ethier & James R. Markusen, 1991. "Multinational Firms, Technology Diffusion and Trade," NBER Working Papers 3825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bronwyn H. Hall & Beethika Khan, 2004. "Adoption of New Technology," Development and Comp Systems 0401001, EconWPA.
  10. James Markusen & Thomas Rutherford & David Tarr, 2005. "Trade and direct investment in producer services and the domestic market for expertise," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 758-777, August.
  11. Wolfgang Keller, 1997. "Are International R&D Spillovers Trade-Related? Analyzing Spillovers Among Randomly Matched Trade Partners," NBER Working Papers 6065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. James R. Markusen, 1998. "Contracts, Intellectual Property Rights, and Multinational Investment in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 6448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Glass, Amy Jocelyn & Saggi, Kamal, 2002. " Multinational Firms and Technology Transfer," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(4), pages 495-513, December.
  14. Gong, Guan & Keller, Wolfgang, 2003. "Convergence and polarization in global income levels: a review of recent results on the role of international technology diffusion," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1055-1079, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Dieter M. Urban, 2007. "FDI Technology Spillovers and Wages," CESifo Working Paper Series 2132, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Carmen Fillat Castejón & Julia Woerz, 2006. "Good or bad? The influence of FDI on output growth. An industry-level analysis," Documentos de Trabajo dt2006-01, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad de Zaragoza.
  3. Caudillo Sanchez, Francisco, 2006. "Is information and communication technology (ICT) the right strategy for growth in Mexico?," Freiberg Working Papers 2006,17, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  4. Kuan Xu & Zhengxi Lin, 2007. "Participation in Employer-sponsored Training in Canada: Role of Firm Characteristics and Worker Attributes," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive paperb1_7_ic_workingpaper, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.

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